december 2019 KPA CTP of the Month
Erin Kidd, KPA CTP, came to positive-reinforcement training with a sigh of relief 15 years ago. Since she bought her first clicker years ago she has enjoyed training her own dogs, working with client dogs through her business Happy Bark Dog Training, and launching the training side of Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care Luxury Pet Resort, where she will offer group classes beginning in January 2020 in her role of dog trainer and training program designer.
An article in Whole Dog Journal first sparked Erin’s interest in clicker training. “At that time, I had no idea there was a different way to train than what I was told in classes I took,” she recalls. What she was being taught, “just didn’t feel right to me,” Erin says. When she tried clicker training with her dog, she discovered that her dog learned amazingly fast and that together they had so much fun. Erin found Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) doing some online searching about her new passion, clicker training, but did not think about enrolling just yet.
Erin attended local kennel club agility classes that used clicker training and, after several years as a student, began to teach the program’s foundation and beginner level agility classes. A return visit to the KPA website led Erin to sign up for and attend her first ClickerExpo conference in 2015. (She has gone back in 2017, 2018, and 2019!) “After my first ClickerExpo, I dreamed about obtaining the KPA certification, but I have a fulltime job in IT Leadership at a healthcare organization and couldn’t justify the expense,” Erin explains. “It was after ClickerExpo 2017 and two and a half years of group class training, that I made the decision to go for it. "
The “amazing” Laura Monaco Torelli was Erin’s instructor for the KPA Dog Trainer Professional (DTP) program. Erin completed the program in Madison, Wisconsin, graduating in early 2018. “Completing the Dog Trainer professional program has been one of my greatest achievements.” The hands-on workshops Erin attended with Laura and her classmates were opportunities to build her skills and confidence “as a trainer and a teacher.” As Erin “wanted to earn the KPA certification so badly,” she remembers being more nervous for her DTP program assessments than she had been for college exams.
Completing the Dog Trainer Professional program has been one of my greatest achievements.
Erin believes that her experience with KPA has made her a much more confident and capable trainer. “I can explain to students both how they can achieve their training goals and why the method of training works.” As an example, Erin remembers a student in one of her foundation agility classes. The woman trained with her goldendoodle, using a shock collar, and did not believe that using a clicker would work. Erin, noting the woman’s own timidity and shyness. “I approached her with positive feedback and pointed out successful moments, building her confidence in training her dog. With that support, my student learned to train her dog to perform agility foundation skills successfully using the clicker.”
Her most recent opportunity came to Erin because of her KPA CTP certification. When her veterinarian was starting to plan a practice expansion to add a doggy day care, boarding, and training facility, Erin came to mind. “I have designed the Brook-Falls Veterinary Hospital & Exotic Care Luxury Pet Resort training program and will be the main trainer when classes in January,” Erin shares proudly.
Focusing on reinforceable moments has become a way of life for Erin, both professionally and personally. “I am not always successful, but that is always in the back of my mind.” Having completed KPA’s Puppy Start Right for Instructors course in addition to the DTP program, Erin now hopes to enroll in the concept training classes. “I am so honored to be associated with Karen Pryor Academy.”